When coach Jennie Baranczyk’s 15th-ranked Sooner women find themselves behind for long stretches, one comeback tends to be enough.
One comeback that not only pulls her squad even, but beyond. One comeback that, should it fail, only fails because the opponent comes up with an emphatic one of its own.
Saturday, Oklahoma needed two or three comebacks, but they got them and the last one soon enough even to bask for a bit in what became their 97-93 Bedlam victory.
A big win over Oklahoma State, period, it kept OU on top of the Big 12 standings, pushed its winning streak to five games after a home-court loss to Baylor and came at the expense of a rock-solid team.
In her first year with at the Cowgirl helm, coach Jamie Hoyt’s squad entered Lloyd Noble with 13 wins and a .500 mark in a tough league.
Far more than that, it was a singular moment for Baranczyk’s Sooner program, too, gaining a difficult victory over an arch-rival in front of the largest crowd (9,580 officially and generously) since she got to town, one that spent most of the fourth quarter and all of the last few minutes on its feet.
“When you have this many people who are cheering for you, look what happened at the end of the game,” Baranczyk said. “And you cannot convince me that did not help us with the outcome of the game.”
Williams led the Sooners with 26 points, but it was everybody at the end, all of it happening after OU cut a 12-point deficit to one, then a 10-point deficit to four, and finally one last seven-point deficit with 8:44 remaining and six-point deficit with 6:19 remaining into what became their victory.
The last push began with a 27-foot 3-pointer from Taylor Robertson, her first of the contest and the beginning of her 10-point final frame.
A steal and layup from Nevaeh Tot made it a one-point game and with 4:44 remaining, a layup from Williams put OU on top, 83-82, for the first time since 90 seconds remained in the first half.
Lior Garzon came back with two free throws to put the Cowgirls back up, but after Skylar Vann’s left-side 3-pointer with 4:03 remaining put the Sooners up for good.
OU (16-2, 6-1 Big 12) pushed the lead to eight points only to have it come back to two, yet not once over the final 2:51 did the Cowgirls have the ball with a chance to regain the lead.
The failed charges did not register with Williams.
“I don’t remember really looking up at the scoreboard.” She said, “I was too busy having fun on the court with my teammates and making sure that everybody was on the same page.”
The Sooners may have just exhausted the Cowgirls, whose modus operandi all night had been to answer Sooner runs with 3s.
After three quarters, OSU (13-6, 3-4) had canned 13 of 27 from beyond the arc, as OU made 4 of 11. In the final frame, as the Sooners kept pushing, the Cowgirls made 1 of 10, while the Sooners made 5 of 8.
Behind Williams, who netted her 26 on 9 of 17 accuracy, Ana Llanusa finished with 17 points, Robertson with 15 and Liz Scott with 11 and a game-high eight rebounds.
OSU’s Ana Gret Asi, playing 32 minutes off the bench, canned 8 of 15 shots, 7 of 12 from 3-point land, matching Williams’ 26 points.
Lexi Keys added 14 points, Terry Milton 12 and Claire Chastain 11.
Baranczyk would rather not give up 93 points, but looks forward to many more contests with Saturday’s electricity.
“When I first got here, I felt like I knew everybody [in the crowd] by name. I had only been here a month and I’m telling them to stand up,” she said. “And now I’m yelling at people I don’t know that are here that are [already] standing up … This needs to be our baseline.”